House GOP leaders have put a compromise immigration bill on ice after President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE said Friday he “certainly” would not sign the legislation.
Trump’s comments have thrown into doubt whether House Republicans will even take up the thorny issue of immigration this crucial election year. Immigration votes had been planned for next week.
Republican leaders at the last-minute scrapped a planned Friday whip check on the compromise bill. Instead, they will try to gauge support for the bill next week after they get clarification about what exactly Trump meant in his Friday interview on Fox News, Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryHouse Democrats scramble to save housing as Biden eyes cuts Congress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it Yellen calls for 'very destructive' debt limit to be abolished MORE (R-N.C.) told reporters.
McHenry cautioned that House Republicans won’t “take on” immigration unless they have Trump's backing.
“We want to get clarity on the president’s position on this bill,” McHenry said just off the House floor. “Republicans are not going to take on immigration without the support and endorsement of President Trump.”
Even if leadership pushes ahead with the vote, one key lawmaker questioned whether Thursday is still a realistic timetable.
“In light of everything, I think it's fair to ask the question: Is next Thursday premature on these two votes?” said Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerWe are all paying for DeSantis' defiance of the First Amendment Democrats look to make debt ceiling a winning issue Veteran, author launches US Senate campaign in North Carolina MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC).
Trump later tweeted a list of priorities that are already included in the compromise immigration bill.
The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda. Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2018
Trump’s impromptu remarks threw a wrench into GOP leadership’s immigration plans.
Republican leaders, who were desperate to stave off a discharge petition from centrists that would force a free-wheeling immigration debate on the House floor, reached an agreement to hold two votes next week on a pair of immigration bills, including the compromise measure and a more hard-line bill from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier in the week said that Trump was “excited” about the compromise bill, while White House senior adviser Stephen Miller had met with conservatives on Capitol Hill to rally support for the immigration framework.
But several top House conservatives declared the 293-page compromise bill “dead on arrival” following Trump’s comments Friday.
Trump’s remarks were a “relief,” said Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingGOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Pence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' MORE (R-Iowa), an immigration hard-liner who predicted that votes on both immigration bills would fail next week.
Asked if Republicans could pass an immigration bill without Trump’s support, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanCheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member Garland defends school board memo from GOP 'snitch line' attacks Fight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing MORE (R-Ohio), a former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, tersely replied: “No.”
The compromise immigration bill is “on life support,” added Rep. Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtGroup launches first national ad campaign to celebrate America's 250th anniversary House Democrats call for paid legal representation in immigration court Mo Brooks expresses interest in running for Shelby's Senate seat MORE (R-Ala.), an RSC member who opposes that legislation.
Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — US 'deeply alarmed' by reports of military takeover in Sudan US 'deeply alarmed' by reports of military takeover in Sudan Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability MORE (R-Texas) said they were expecting the White House to put out a statement “any minute” clarifying Trump’s comments.
Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenOne bipartisan remedy to the wave of anti-LGBTQ legislative attacks? passing the Equality Act High-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Bottom line MORE (R-Fla.), who is facing a tough reelection bid in a district that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe real reason Biden is going to the COP26 climate summit Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump I voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 MORE won by nearly 20 points in 2016, added, “This is going to be a cliffhanger.”
The compromise measure sticks to the four main pillars demanded by Trump: It creates a new merit-based visa program for so-called Dreamers, provides $25 billion for border security, ends the diversity visa lottery program and limits family-based migration.
The legislation goes even further by including a trigger mechanism to halt the new visas if Congress denies funding for the border wall, ending the separation of immigrant children and parents at the border, and ending “catch and release” immigration loopholes.
Centrist Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartAnother voice of reason retires Defense contractors ramp up donations to GOP election objectors Bottom line MORE (R-Fla.), one of the key negotiators, said the compromise bill is the last, best chance for any immigration and border security proposal to become law this year.
“It's the only shot at [the wall] and it's the only shot, I believe ... to legalize the Dreamers, stop the deportation of the Dreamers, and to have a permanent fix for them," said Diaz-Balart.
This isn't the first time that Trump has scuttled GOP leadership's plans by announcing last-minute opposition to a bill.
Hours before the House was scheduled to vote on controversial legislation renewing the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program in January, Trump tweeted that the program was used to "badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign."
Capitol Hill was instantly thrown into confusion ahead of what was already expected to be a tight vote before Trump walked back his comments in a separate tweet.
Rafael Bernal and Juliegrace Brufke contributed.
Updated at 1:19 p.m.